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Case Study: MasterCard

A brand platform for the world’s biggest star

The SpendSmart MasterCard is a debit card devoted to responsible teen spending. SpendSmart engaged Justin Bieber to spread their message and hired BrandFire to create a platform for the partnership. BrandFire developed a campaign that captured the essential message of responsible spending while maintaining a distance between the polarizing star and his corporate partner.

The challenge

BrandFire was brought in to manage the three-way brand partnership — MasterCard, SpendSmart, and Justin Bieber — and create assets that would communicate the proposition while navigating the sensitivities of each constituent. The main challenge was to successfully present a brand aimed at teens with a polarizing teen star and a conservative corporate client in MasterCard.

Our approach

BrandFire developed #realtalk which gave SpendSmart its own content brand and while building a brand wall between MasterCard and the polarizing young celebrity. This power of this plan was quickly revealed as Bieber entered a dangerous phase of his career that resulted in tremendous media attention and pushed the “teen” star into a more adult persona.


The campaign developed by BrandFire successfully promoted registrations and card sign-ups as well as parental investment in the SpendSmart card, resulting in record “loads.” MasterCard was successfully protected and insulated from Bieber’s behavior due to the platform we had created for that very purpose.